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WHO Warns of Treatment Gap for Mental Disorders in Poor Countries

More than 75 percent of people suffering from mental disorders in the developing world receive no treatment or care, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Thursday.

Governments, donors and mental health stakeholders should rapidly increase funding and basic mental health services to close this huge treatment gap, the UN agency said in a statement, ahead of the World Mental Health Day on Friday.

"Governments across the world need to see mental health as a vital component of primary health care. We need to change policy and practice," said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan.

"Only then can we get the essential mental health services to the tens of millions in need," she added.

With proper care, psychosocial assistance and medication, tens of millions could be treated for diseases such as depression, schizophrenia, and epilepsy and begin to lead healthy lives -- even where resources are scarce, according to a WHO Mental Health Gap Action Program launched on Thursday.

The program sets out a number of cost-effective strategies to tackle the treatment gap for mental, neurological and substance use disorders.

Those strategies include assessing countries needs and resources, developing sound mental health policy and legislation, and increasing human and financial resources.

(Xinhua News Agency October 10, 2008)

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